I'm a single Mom of a 9 year old so obviously my opinions will differ from others, but here goes.
The ship is amazing - it's beautiful. All reviews are correct you are literally on the ship in 15 minutes if you have already attached your luggage tags. Print them out in advance so the luggage guys dont have to look up your room number.
In 7 days I never really felt crowded. I have no idea where the other 6,000 people were on board.
I do not pay extra to eat on a cruise so I cannot comment on the speciality resaturants other than to say there are lots of them and if you dont mind paying extra it's a good ship to cruise for a variety of fancy dinners.
We ate in the Windjammer most mornings - they actually help seat you now and that really helps. Before you spent too much time trying to find an emtpy table. We didnt eat lunch too often as dinners in the dining room are so much food. Central Park Cafe looked nice (healthy type foods) but not much interest for a 9 year old. I think they had nice salads made to order. We had snacks in the Royal Promenade Cafe. That is the BEST place for desserts and coffee and got pizza a lot at the pizza place across from there.
We did anytime dining but made reservations when we got on board for every night. You get two choices 5:30 or 7:45 so it's not really anytime dining it's more like any "two" times of dining. Now I never just showed up so not sure if you could get a table quickly if you did that. We had the same waiter ever night... Merelyn - She was amazing. You must request her! She's so nice and GREAT with kids if you have them.
The boardwalk is nice but after you see it once it's basically like being at the mall so dont book this cruise for things like a boardwalk or central park. I walked through central park one time and never saw it again for the entire crusie. Book this ship if your kids like to zip line but keep in mind you get to zip line ONCE a day and it lasts 5 seconds. Not trying to discourage anyone but a 5 second zip line would not make me take the Allure again. I know it helps with crowds but I missed there being one central pool location. You miss that "this is where's it's at" feel. Everyone is separated at different pools. There was no midnight party, no midnight buffet...some of the things smaller ships have.
Rooms were so much smaller! I booked a large interior room but it was absolutely NO bigger than a regular interior. Do not pay extra for a LARGE interior they are not larger.
Shows are fabulous... pain to have to book in advance. If you dont have shows booked before you step on the ship you have to wait in long lines to try and get in to take seats of those who dont show up. It def helps distribute crowds having lots of different shows but some people who are not technical may not know to do all this in advance.
Character breakfasts sell out fast. Didn't get to go. Sign up quick!
Cozumel - did not leave the boat as my daughter caught the virus that was all over the ship. That's the other problem - the ship was full of the Noiro Virus. Everyone had it. My daughter was throwing up for 12 hours in pain. I think it's just too many people crammed into a space which makes it spread so fast.
Pools - easy to get chairs if you were at the pool by 9 am... if you showed up at noon you would probably have a hard time getting a chair by the pool but there were hundreds of chairs on upper decks so getting an actual chair was never a problem.
Dining room food was super to me. Im not a huge fan of too much so I had a steak almost every night and enjoyed different appetizers for a variety.
Michelle in the champagne bar is the nicest person I've ever met. She will take GREAT care of you and treat your children so nice if they sit in there with you.
If you want to buy pictures dont wait until the last night. I ended up going home without any because that night I felt the crowd. haha
Exras I did pay for but wouldn't next time:
Rita's Cantina Fiesta Party... 20 extra per person
They serve a set menu of greasy stuff. They basically play music so loud you can't speak then have you do a line dance outside in the boardwalk. It's just not worth the extra money to me.
Prohibition night $35 per person unlimited drinks
What they dont mention is it's unlimited drinks they have on hand. They have like 3 different drinks already made and they are handing them out. Some gin drink, maybe a long island tea and something else. I was not a fan of any of them and had to ask for a drink to be made for me. I paid $35 for unlimited drinks so I wanted something I would like. They did make it but seemed irritated they had to go to another area to make it for me.
What drove me nuts:
There are NO trash cans anywhere!!!!!! So when kids did not finish their ice cream cones they threw them on the ground because they had no where else to throw them. When kids didn't finish their hotdogs at the hotdog place they just sat them down because there was no where else to put them. Same with cupcake place. Recycling places scattered around but the ship needs regular TRASH containers!!!
At night after the Windjammer closed it was impossible to find a drink unless you paid for a soda. Royal Promenade and Pizza place only serve water - no tea or lemondade which you get for free. That was so frustrating!!!!!
Overall the ship is HUGE.. that's really all it is HUGE!!!!!! I've been on the small Royal ships... Freedom, Independence, Adventures... I liked them better! Just a personal preference.